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TOILET WHISPERING

Naslov / Title: Straniščna šepetanja / Toilet whispering
Nastopajoči intelektualci / Performing intelectuals: Petja Grafenauer, Aleksandra Saška Gruden, Ida Hiršenfelder, Sarah Lunaček, Slađana Mitrović, Neža Mrevlje, Tanja Petrič, Ana Porok, Maja Smrekar, Jasmina Založnik, Irena Žmuc in Bernarda Županek
Avtorja / Authors: Jana Putrle Srdić, Zoran Srdić Janežič
Koncepti stranišč / Concept of art toilets: Marko A. Kovačič, Andrej Štular, Zoran Srdić Janežič
Risbe /Drawings: Zoran Srdić Janežić
Tekst: Jana Putrle Srdić
Prevod v angleščino / English translation: Borut Canjko
Lokacija / Exhibition space: Trg francoske revolucije, Ljubljana
Datum / Date: 8. September – 10. October 2014, od 20.30 do 22.30 ure
Produkcija / Production: Strip Core / Forum Ljubljana
Koprodukcija / Coproduction: Zavod za sodobne umetnosti in kulture Gulag, Mestni muzej Ljubljana
Projekt je podprla / Project was suported by: Mestna občina Ljubljana – Oddelek za kulturo. Program Svetlobne gverile je del mednarodnega projekta Spectrum 14/15. Izvedba tega projekta je financirana s strani Evropske komisije.

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Toilets have always aroused human curiosity. What are they like at our neighbours, in first-class hotels or designer restaurants, in Asian villages? How do they make it in Arab countries, or Japan? As if in a normal sequence, travellers in their accounts frequently mention toilets right after speaking about the country’s culinary delights. Is this an obscene curiosity – obscene in the sense of repulsive, morally offensive, but at the same time also irresistibly sexually attractive? Sex in a toilet is a frequent sexual fantasy.

Toilets are among material evidences of actual life that carry ideological contents and orientations of a particular state apparatus. In his book The Plague of Fantasies, Slavoj Žižek mentions Lévi-Strauss’ distinction based on the preparation of raw, baked and cooked food, which allows for an inference of “the spiritual food” of the person that cooks. Some authors took a close look at different ways of washing the dishes, or even of (non)shaping of pubic hair. As to the toilet culture, we can discern German toilets in which body waste remains on a porcelain shelf for detail examination and ambiguous fascination; Italian and French toilets where, in a revolutionary manner, the waste is quickly flushed away and out of the sight and smell; and, as a synthesis of the two, American toilets filled with water in which one can see the excrements without smelling them and can thus consider them pragmatically as refuse.

What could be said about Roman toilets as predecessors of the contemporary ones? Their users sit on benches with holes, and excrements fall into running water. It is most interesting that Roman toilets are a social place: these benches outside public baths have some twenty holes in the form of the letter U. Thus, more and less wealthy people meet there, face-to-face; the latter frequently cherish hopes that they will be invited to the table of the rich, or catch any other benefits.

As in every cosmopolitan city, whores were living also in Emona. Some of them offered their services outdoors, humble and cheap; others had their premises arranged in a house with small bedrooms – as can be inferred from the Roman Pompeii.

Toilets and whores, public debates and oral eroticism are the connective links of the DIWO (Do It With Others) artivistic street performance Toilet Whispering featuring Petja Grafenauer, Aleksandra Saška Gruden, Ida Hiršenfelder, Sarah Lunaček, Slađana Mitrović, Neža Mrevlje, Tanja Petrič, Ana Porok, Maja Smrekar, Jasmina Založnik, Irena Žmuc, and Bernarda Županek. These women intellectuals, artists and humanists offer their knowledge to passers-by in toilets-art objects designed by sculptors Marko A. Kovačič, Andrej Štular, and Zoran Srdić Janežič. Acting as a pimp,theradio speaker and narrator Rok Kušlan invites people to intellectual toilet debates, as well as to a re-evaluation of the frequently under-rated precarious intellectual work.

The intellectual whores await exciting intellectual debates, while the visitors also expect entertainment. The former are equipped with knowledge, wit and verbal skills, and the latter have questions and money. The narrow, intimate space with four seats in which conversations take place between up to four persons, regularly brings them closer to each other and opens a path to existential considerations. Perhaps the clients wish to discuss Von Trier’s last film, or grumble about contemporary art, or ask about the sponges for wiping buttocks that were used in Emona, or simply want to hear a certain text in its original language – there is a plethora of subjects on the list. According to their own estimation and satisfaction at the end of the visit, the customers evaluate and compensate for the intellectual work and ingenuity of the ladies.

Let the ancient exchange take place on the square, let the ideas strike and, when parting company, let the heated heads be filled with stars.

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